6 Major Sleep Mistakes Parents Make
Over the past twenty years I have worked with many parents whose little ones have been having difficulty sleeping at night
During this time I have identified at least 6 major sleep mistakes and misunderstandings most parents make. These mistakes, when known about, can be turned around leading to long term good sleeping habits for your little one. I was lucky when my own three little came along. My awareness and knowledge helped my three to develop the foundations for long term good sleep habits. By sharing these common sleep mistakes, I hope you too can help your little one develop good long term sleep habits.
1. Babies sleep all night through
A common thing that many parents believe, and then when their little bundle doesn't follow suit, they believe there is something wrong! Babies sleep for what is called a sleep cycle. The duration of this is approximately 45 minutes. After the sleep cycle your baby will naturally wake up and usually drift off to sleep again for the next sleep cycle. At about six months your baby will begin to link sleep cycles together.
2. Child’s sleep room is too stimulating
Babies and toddlers are very prone to becoming over stimulated very quickly. This over stimulation makes it more difficult for your baby/toddler to get to sleep. Be aware of those hanging mobiles in the cot with their bright lights and sounds. These can be more distracting for your little one rather than aiding sleep. Your little one's sleep space should be free of all toys because when your little one wakes, or is going to bed, guess what? They will want to play with those toys!
3. The later your little one goes to bed, the longer he will sleep at night
This is a real misconception. A late bedtime means your little one will take longer to get to sleep and leads to frequent wakening during the night. While your little one may not appear tired, rather over active in the late evenings, this is a real sign of over tiredness. When your little one reaches this point it is going to be very difficult to get them settled for bed with the result of a really poor nights sleep.
4. Inconsistent bed times routine
A bedtime routine helps your little one prepare their little body for wind down and eventual sleep. A consistent bed time routine which might include an activity such as massage or a story helps your little one to know what is coming next ie bed. With consistency they will also learn to anticipate, so helping your little one to develop sleep expectations associated with bedtime routine. Consistency also helps your little one to develop the ability to feel secure, which is important for emotional regulation. A bedtime routine does not need to be long in duration. In fact if your little one is already tired a long drawn out bedtime routine can contribute to over tiredness. Try to keep your bed time routine short in duration, this will also make it easier to stick to.
5. Nap time during the day will prevent sleep at night
Up to the age of four, your little one will benefit from sleep/rest time during the day. This nap time is essential to prevent your little one's brain becoming over tired. Your little one's brain can tolerate only a limited duration of activity before their little brain has had enough and needs some rest. If your little one is having difficulty sleeping at night introduce nap time during the day.
6. Sleep difficulties are seen in isolation to other influences which impact on sleep such as developmental level or illness
Your little one has to be developmentally able and ready to sleep before you can expect them to sleep during the night. This unnatural expectation by parents I have seen puts them under huge pressure. If your little one is not developmentally ready or has the developmental pre requisitives to sleep during the night, no amount of forced routines will result in them sleeping. This level of expectation is unfair on parents. Often, the difficulty for parents is that there is so much sleep advice available, it is hard to know which advice to follow. If you have any sleep or development questions, please feel free to get in touch with me on fionaofarrell.ie
The above sleep mistakes have been identified as a result of Fiona O’Farrell’s own research and are copyright 2015
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